Tuesday, June 7, 2022

June is Pet Preparedness Month

 

Yes, it's true my monthly theme is "The Nose Knows" but I'd be remiss if I didn't do at least one post on National Pet Preparedness Month!  You see, back in my younger days I worked with the Office of Emergency Management in my local area to coordinate volunteers that could help in emergency situations.  This means it was my job to promote emergency preparedness!  And even though, I wasn't a dog trainer back then, I always had a special interest in preparedness that involved our pets.

As part of my job, I assisted the Red Cross in setting up Emergency Shelters in times of disaster on a local and regional level.  I never really expected it to hit me at home!  After all, when we are young we tend to think, "Oh it will never happen to me!"  But then it does...

So it was an especially wet spring with rivers near flood stage already, but then the clouds released 3 days worth of downpour and the water level doubled rapidly.  There were reports of a dam upstream that was experiences problems due to the well beyond normal amount of water rushing thru and fear of the dam breaking at any moment releasing way more water into the flood plan areas that what it could handle.  And yes, my house was inside the area known as the 100 yr flood plan.  So here I am with 5 kids, a disabled husband, and 2 dogs inside a house that could potentially flood overnight.  And here I am working with emergency management to assist the people that are being displaced by this threat.  Yet here there I sat without a plan for what to do with my animals if my family had to relocate to the emergency shelter.  You see at that time, Red Cross was just starting to consider planning to involve animals and pets, with the exception of Service Dogs were not allowed in the shelter.  I was needed to work the late night shift at the shelter, so I loaded up my kids (then teenagers) and took them with me to help with meal time at the shelter and providing them a safe place to sleep.  My husband kept the dogs at home keeping a close eye on the raising waters with plans to jump in the vehicle and rush to the shelter if water levels rose to dangerous levels.  This means that he showed up at the shelter about 3am to finally try to get some sleep and since I was to be awake all night, the dogs unofficially became chief of security as they stayed in the parked car just outside the shelter doors where I was positioned.  Thankfully it was a quiet night and I could go visit them regularly.  And thankfully the rain had stopped and the staff at the dam were able to take some preventative measures that prevented breakage so it was safe to return home later that day.  But had the worst case scenario happened, we could have easily been homeless in an instant...Then what?

Now you can see why Pet Preparedness Month is a big deal to me!  And now that I have a rescue dog with anxiety if he's forced to be away from me too long and doesn't handle changes or other dogs well, plus a Service Dog that I rely on in nearly every situation, it's even more important to me.  Thankfully we no longer live in a flood plan, but disasters can still happen; tornados, power outages that last for days, ice/winter storms, etc.  No matter where you are in the world, there is a potential for natural disasters.  Of course we are all aware that man-made disasters are being more common as well.

What can you do to be prepared? 

For me that is an easy answer!  Go to Ready.gov to learn how to

  1. Make a plan!
  2. Build an emergency kit!
  3. Stay informed or be prepared!
Here is a link to their resources for preparing your pets, which also applies to preparing your Service Dog for an emergency situation.

Another great resource is

SMART911.com is an online profile that you can create and update to include phone #'s of your emergency contacts, basic medical info that first responders may need, vehicle info, pet info and it even has a place to list your Service Dog and important info about why you have a Service Dog.  This profile is automatically pulled up at a dispatch center when you call 911 from your phone.  It's an excellent resource to make sure emergency responders can help in the best way no matter what emergency you might be in.

The nice thing about this service is that it will text you a prompt once every 6 months to update your profile and you can reply that your up to date and not get another prompt for 6 months.  They do not spam you and emergency services can only pull up your info if you call them or they search my name because your ID was found on scene.  I've had an account since this system first came out nearly 10 yrs ago!

SD Hander Chat discussion on Emergency Preparedness

While the group of people in this chat are all Service Dog Handlers, much of what we discuss would also apply to all pets; dogs, cats, horses, etc.



Monday, June 6, 2022

NOSEwork is FREE!

Free Exploration Time!

Azul and I were shopping at a pet friendly store and we're surprised to see another dog in the store. This raised Azul's excitement level a bit so after we were done shopping we took a 15-18 min sniff-a-bout.


The location is a small practice football field that is empty and the grass is long because it's not football season. That means extra smells for Azul! There are baseball fields nearby with some practice sessions just starting so there are people coming and going in the distance. And there is occasional road noise from the traffic. Azul is wearing his everyday harness and flat collar. There is a traffic lead attached to the back harness clip incase another dog shows up or I need one of Azul's Service Dog tasks. And there is a 10ft Paracord leash attached to Azul's back clip and my waist belt to ensure that we are save in this wide open environment. Azul is free to explore the field going any direction he wants as long as he doesn't go too fast. I try to be as quiet as I can so that Azul can do his doggy thing uninterrupted. I might give so gentle encouragement to explore a certain area such, "Oh what's over here!" And I will no doubt offer praise and encouragement for making choices that I like such as exploring these tires. This kind of free activity is important to help dogs develop good habits and make good choices appropriate to their ability which in turn helps develop their confidence and makes them more resilient when life doesn't go as planned.

Working Paws Comment

  Message Received from Group Member The Working Paws group is open to anyone training their dog with some more advanced skills typically fo...